HCHS tennis teams hope to build on success in regional


The HCHS girls tennis team includes, from left, coach Angie Lewis, Amber Lewis, Kalista Dunn, Lindsay Hall, Laura Ball, Kaitlyn Daniels, Abigail Gaw and coach Caleb Bailey.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

The HCHS boys tennis team includes, from left, coach Angie Lewis,Chandler Smith, Sawyer Cornett, Braden Engle, Trey Ball, Steven Fee, Calan Neely, Joshua Stewart, Elijah Moore and coach Caleb Bailey.

Coming off perhaps the best regular season performance in school history, the Harlan County High School tennis teams are hoping to build on their success in the regional tournament on Tuesday at Corbin.
The HCHS girls have been especially strong, improving from 12-4 to 14-4 and ranking third in the region behind only Corbin and North Laurel. The boys have improved from 6-10 last season to 9-8 this year.
“It’s been a great season for both of our tennis teams. The girls team worked as one all year long and their record reflects it. The boys are improving and more with each match,” HCHS coach Caleb Bailey said. “The girls team is resilient. They want to find out what they can to to get better each practice. If they do something wrong they want to know how to correct it. The boys are the same way. I have some that want me to stay an extra 30 minutes after regular practice time just to show them a certain shot or position in the court. I love that we have a wonderful group that wants to correct their mistakes.”
Kalista Dunn and Kaitlyn Daniels will represent the Lady Bears in singles.
“These two girls are brand new to the sport of tennis, and they came in this season willing to learn and are getting better and they are pulling in wins for us,” Bailey said. “They can be a problem to teams and they have a very bright future in this sport. They are getting better and better each practice and match.”
Lindsay Hall and Abigail Gaw will represent HCHS in doubles, playing against Knox Central in the first round.
“Abigail Gaw and Lindsay Hall have played a huge role in our team’s success this season,” Bailey said. “They have won some big matches for us this season. They can cause problems for a lot of teams in this tournament if they continue to play the way they should. These two have had a wonderful season, I think losing only four times and that was to some great squads. Those two can bring power in their shot-making ability. I’m very proud of how much better they have gotten and continue to grow.”
Amber Lewis and Laura Ball will play against Clay County in the first round.
“Laura and Amber have turned their level of play up a notch in the past few weeks. When they are on, they can hit any ball to any spot on the courts. They have played a tremendous role in our team’s success at their spots,” Bailey said. “Laura has made it a commitment to be more consistent and it is showing. This is Amber’s last shot at making a run in this tournament, and I know she can put everything she has into it. I have told her to let the racket do the talking and leave everything on the courts. These two can compete with anyone when they are on their A game.”
The boys doubles tandems include Calan Neely and Steven Fee against Oneida Baptist and Braden Engle and Elijah Moore against Clay County.
“All of those guys have turned it on the last few weeks in doubles.They are hitting with much more power and precision and they are talking to their teammate, which is important in doubles. They can cause fits for anybody when they play their very best game,” Bailey said. “I’m proud of each of these players and I’m excited for them to show how much better they have gotten these past few weeks.”
Chandler Smith and Sawyer Cornett, both seniors, will represent HCHS in singles.
“Sawyer and Chandler have had a very good season at their spots for us in singles this season and if they can play their very best, an opponent will struggle with some of their shot-making,” Bailey said. “This is their last regional tournament ever, and I am anxious to see them leave everything on the court and give everything they have in their matches.”
Bailey is happy with his team’s progress this season and what the future holds for the program,
“All in all, I’m proud of our squads. This is a very big tournament and once again the 13th Region is proving why they are one of the toughest regions in the state of Kentucky,” he said. “There is a lot of competition and a lot of great, great tennis players. If you want to advance in this tournament you have to earn it. We’re going to miss our seniors once this is all said and done. But I’m very thankful to coach this entire team. This is a very special team that I will remember for many, many years.”